A Father’s Day Snapshot

Daddy and me

The photo above was developed in December of ‘58. Since the Polaroid instant camera had yet to come into our lives, there’s no way to tell for certain when the picture was taken. But, given that I’m wearing a coat and hat, it might well have been snapped in December, so I’d have been a little over two years old.

Another thing you can’t tell from this image is how much my daddy loved me and how much I loved him right back. I might not have been his biological child, but he adored me. I’ve always thought it was a good thing we didn’t have much money because I truly believe he’d have turned me into an entitled brat. He had trouble telling me “no.”

Daddy came to live with Studly Doright and me in the last couple of years of his life, and I learned more about him in that time than I had in all the previous years put together. We had some good talks about life and love and what makes for a good grocery store and his antics whilst stationed in Japan during his navy days and famous people he’d met while driving a cab in Los Angeles and how to win at blackjack and which club he should have used on the fourth tee box at the Floydada country club during the annual men’s tournament and just about anything else that popped into his head.

To some folks’ way of thinking, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about Gerald Hall. He didn’t have a degree. His ancestral tree didn’t include any persons of note. He never built a house on a hill or had a fancy car. But he was kind and funny and generous. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye and a fondness for risqué jokes. He loved my brothers and our mom and me. And we loved him. I miss him every day.

Happy Father’s Day.

Heat Wave Reading

The sun had yet to rise on this Saturday morning and already the thermometer read 81° in Tallahassee, Florida. With a predicted high of 100° – and that’s without factoring in humidity – it’d be a good day to stay inside and read.

Need a few suggestions? Happy to oblige. Now I’m the kind of reader that makes Amazon’s algorithms shake their weary heads. If algorithms only had heads. There’s no one genre that dominates my wish list. One day, sci-fi. Another day, steamy romance. Yet another day, some deep tome on what it means to be human. So pay attention.

1) I’m currently reading Hunted, the second installation in Scott Walker’s Little Yokai urban fantasy series, and loving it. His protagonist, Keiko Miller, is a detective in the Los Angeles branch of the Bureau of Souls – an agency that polices yokai, supernatural beings that crossed a rift in the veil between our world and theirs thirty years ago. Keiko’s keeping a literal life and death secret from the bureau, while still being a badass detective and a loving and dutiful daughter. Here’s a link to book one because you really should start at the beginning. Caged: The Little Yokai Series Book 1 https://a.co/d/isIXOtC

2. Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter, by Amy Weinland Daughters, is one of those books that makes one happy to be human. It’s the true tale of the author’s quest to form a real connection with people beyond the confines of social media. The book is touching and funny and inspirational, and I highly recommend it. http://Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter https://a.co/d/awAFGw5

3. If you like something on the steamier side, I recommend Ivy Nelson’s dark romance series, Club Exposure, beginning with book one, Hidden. Hidden: An enemies to lovers dark romance https://a.co/d/i7WG5Ou. Honestly, my husband wishes I’d read these books and nothing else. Too much information? Sorry!

4. Heather Kindt’s Eternal Artifacts series, beginning with The Green Door, takes the reader on a roller coaster of an adventure in which the stakes are high, but the characters’ curiosity and ambitions keep them coming back for more. This book is aimed at Young Adult readers, but I totally enjoyed it. http://The Green Door (The Eternal Artifacts) https://a.co/d/aXWW7SG

5. A cozy mystery fan? Lori Roberts Herbst has one of the best series out there. I love the mountain setting where snow looms on the peaks. Perfect for summer reading. Currently there are three books in her Callie Cassidy mystery series, with a fourth one on the horizon. http://Suitable for Framing (Callie Cassidy Mysteries) https://a.co/d/jduVxpP

I could go on and on, but five is my lucky number. Let Amazon chew on that.

Peace, people.

The Art of the Review

What makes for a good book review? It’s kind of like the old saying, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”

Even as an author I struggle with writing book reviews: How much do I say? What will help someone else decide if this particular book is a good fit for them? I think carefully before posting a review of another author’s book. Here’s a good article on the topic by Kelly Gallucci: https://bookish.netgalley.com/bookish-lifestyle/02/2022/tips-for-writing-a-good-book-review/

Recently one of my books received a 2-star review. Then the reviewer went on to provide a spoiler without giving any warning. So, now what might have come as a shock or surprise to a potential reader is now revealed to anyone who reads the review.

Then just a day later, a reviewer gave the book 5-stars, and went on to tell a good deal of the story. Sigh. Might as well save a few bucks and just read the review, right?

In both cases if the reviewer had offered a brief Spoiler Alert caveat at the beginning of the review, the potential reader could decide whether to risk reading the review or not.

I know I’d save myself a few headaches if I just didn’t read the reviews of my own books, but a) the good ones stroke my needy ego, and b) the negative ones often help me improve my writing.

As a reader how much attention do you give reviews before reading a book? Do they matter more if it’s a new-to-you author?

Peace, people!

Just no spoilers, please!

Reunited and it Feels so Good

All systems are go for a great reunion!

I woke up to great news this morning! My third book in the Happy Valley series went live on Amazon in kindle format. I wanted to hurry online and let everyone know the good news, but the paperback wasn’t yet available.

Now, I’m not a woman of great patience. You have no idea how difficult it was for me to wait. So I got out of the house and drove to the nearest Panera and waited while having a half sandwich and a salad. Food always makes waiting easier—that’s likely why I’m sporting six extra pounds right now.

As I took bite three of my sandwich, the news came through: All systems are green for go.

Okay, it didn’t actually say that, but that’s the message I took away from the email.

So here I am, with a link to my newest book, and hoping my readers won’t make me wait too long before they head to Amazon to purchase it. Seriously, this waiting is taking an awful toll on my waistline.

http://Reunion at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2HMLBB4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_6JS4AX3N9C4FSCQ2ESAX

Peace, people!

Description 

Paula Arnett is ready to embark on a new adventure. To that end, she’s made some bold choices, and in the process, surprised some of her dearest friends–all in time for her high school class reunion at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort. While Paula hopes to reconnect and reminisce with her classmates, not everyone on the invitation list has come to party. And when one classmate goes missing, Paula can’t ignore the possibility that something terribly wrong has happened. Even worse, she suspects that someone from her class might be responsible. Add in her burgeoning desire for a reunion with a certain doctor, and the stage is set for mystery and maybe a little romance.

Read My Lips

TikTok is the newish marketing tool for authors. I’m a little late to the game. And maybe a little too old for it, but it amuses me.

This morning I decided to recycle my first TikTok video, adding captions to a post in which I read a scene from Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort aloud.

Adding captions is as easy as clicking on a button that says captions. But there’s a catch—if you don’t spend a little time editing the captions you might give your readers/viewers an unexpected giggle.

Unexpected pickles are all the rage these days. I believe “giggle” was the correct word, though.
I had to grab the book to figure out this sentence, but maybe I should’ve left this at it is…

So I’ve found a new way to amuse myself. This could be dangerous.

Peace, people!

Rules to Live By

The title is a bit lofty, isn’t it? It should read, “Rules I must abide by 90% of the time just for the hell of it.” But that’s just too long.

You see, since I discovered Wordle I have made it a habit to solve it first thing in the morning—before I get out of bed. And then I learned about quordle. It’s four wordle puzzles in one. A little harder, but usually solvable—again before rising.

But, then Octordle came along. It’s like wordle on steroids—eight wordle puzzles. Lots of fun! But I must solve it first thing in the morning, as well.

The same goes for Wordle 2, a six-letter version of the original Wordle game. It’s my favorite of the bunch.

Now this may sound daunting, but usually I can solve all the puzzles within a 20-minute time span.

And then I play Framed. It’s not about words at all.

Would you believe me if I said all these puzzles help with the writing process? No, I’m not buying it either.

Peace, people!

Restructuring

Reunion at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort is in the hands of my editor. Well, to be more precise, it’s bouncing back and forth between my editor and me.

Edits for the first two thirds of the book went fairly smoothly, and then we hit a snag. I’m the snag. Now I’m involved in the delicate act of restructuring. Also known as “fixing all the stuff I did wrong.”

I did a LOT of stuff wrong. All I can say is, thank goodness for word processing programs.

Oh, if you haven’t read the first two books in the Happy Valley series, now would be a great time to do that. I’m hoping Reunion will be ready to publish by the first of June.

Peace, people!

http://Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P76RBRD/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_TYKFSJZ3B6S7QEJXPSAH

http://Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09M544HFH/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_24J10JVS86N13Z8HRP46

TikTok Learning Curve

I’d been trying to get my nerve up to use TikTok as a marketing platform for my books for a while now. Finally this week I uploaded my first video. Using my trusty iPhone I took probably nine trillion takes and finally produced a clip that didn’t make me gag.

It’s a very simple video with no special effects or showing of cleavage or dancing about. It’s just me reading a portion of a chapter from Mayhem at the Happy Valley Resort. It received about 830 views and a few likes then sputtered out.

So I produced a second video. It required fewer takes since I didn’t fumble around with the variety of buttons available. Again, I read from one of my books, The Cowboy and the Executive. I think it’s been viewed a little over six hundred times with a smattering of likes.

I tried a silly one last night. Just me hiding beneath a blanket to escape the editing process. That little experiment died on the vine.

So today, I’m putting on a ridiculously low cut blouse, cranking up some sexy music, and dancing around the pole I had Studly Doright install in the dining room. That should sell some books, right?

Peace, people!

Pinch Me

Five Hundred?!

About a week ago I realized that Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort was nearing five hundred reviews on Amazon, and I took a moment to let that soak in. When I wrote the book I never dreamed anyone other than my small group of friends and maybe a few family members might read it. Okay, maybe I dreamed others might take a chance on it, but I certainly wasn’t making any bets.

I’d really thought of Mayhem as a stand-alone novel—that explains its length. For better or worse, I wanted to get as many loose ends tied up as possible. Chalk that up to being a rookie author.

Then, lo and behold, readers I’d never even met began reading the book and asking for a sequel. Of course no miracles were involved other than a generous fellow author, Lori Roberts Herbst, taking the time to show me how to advertise on Facebook. That she retains her sanity after working with me is the true miracle. Check out her award winning cozy mysteries on Amazon.

Mayhem remains my best selling book, but its sequel, Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort is gaining traction. And I’m hoping we’ll have Reunion at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort ready to publish in time for it to qualify as a summer read. Oh, and there’s a spicy little romance, The Cowboy and the Executive, with my name on the cover, as well.

Pinch me, but gently, please. I bruise easily.

Peace, people!

http://Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series Book 1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PDRH2Q9/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_47JVD6SR1X1PRRYXQDJP

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